Monday, September 17, 2012

This was a comment I wrote over on facebook in response to discussion about Obama's relationship to the Black middle class...

 I think that one of our collective failings as Black peoples in the west has been our collective choice to move away from understanding class, class divisions and class oppressions consciously, critically.

 There was a moment, a time when the forefathers and foremothers did not concern themselves with whether those who wanted to see their defiance stopped called them communists. I think that if they weren't fully communists they were definitely, as conscious working class people who understood themselves as revolutionaries, whose goals where collective and (truly) left rather than hierarchical and right of center or extreme right, communist sympathizers who were powerfully allied with working people led movements for change around the planet.


They thought and wrote about how their Blackness combined with their class location in ways that pitted them in direct struggle with members of the upper classes regardless of ethnicity. They could sniff out a jive ass sympathizer/collaborator of The Man and did not assume that just because someone was Black that they were on the side of revolution.


A few years back I came across a conversation on youtube. It was between some premier Black academics. Two men and one woman. All very highly respected. All very well known. One of the men and the woman, who is a premier feminist thinker, engaged in conversation about Black community in the time of crack.


Class came up...sort...of.


It was brought up by the male academic who is very well known for trumpeting the praises of Black people presenting as heterosexual, married, middle class as a way to "uplift" our peoples. He said (and I'm paraphrasing and interpreting here, which means that your reading of what occurred might be very different and that you're welcome to it, of course) that he thought there were two Black communities. One was the desperately poor drug riddled one. The other was the community of those who had high paying jobs, houses, property, vacations, good schools for their children.


Sigh...He said that the latter had a responsibility to the former because it was basically the besieged remnant of the home place the more affluent folks had been nurtured by and had emerged out of.


The Black feminist academic seemed to my mind to have an indignance juiced meltdown. Her words came very quickly, fairly spilling out of her. To me she seemed to not be really interested in engaging with what her co-conversant had said, much more interested in making sure she proved him wrong. Very, very binary. Very unacademic, not at all philosophical or interested in the exchange of ideas. Just sort of...peeved that he went there.


She swore that she didn't know anything about two Black communities and that for her there was only one. She said that her links to the whole community were strong and that despite being a world famous author, who most likely (I'd think) has tenure at a very well respected and high paying university far, far away from any Black people's communities, she powerfully connected with everyday Black communities all the time.


She did, however, add that she knew many successful careered Black people who were one paycheck away from the street. And that this whole notion of there being a set of more well positioned, more powerful, dominant Black people who might be trying to scrape the privileged Black communities off their shoes like so much sticking, stinking shit, was news to her.


hehehe :)


What struck me about this conversation between these highly educated Black author academic intellectuals, was the blatant lack of consciousness about the workings of class, classism, class division, class war, class stratification they displayed. It was sad the way they reached for language and analysis to describe a situation on the ground that their class privilege had so distanced them from that they were not even able to agree that there was an issue here, numerous issues, in fact, that needed to be teased out and discussed in the open that would probably embarrass and call to task people who had found a way to access privilege beyond race.


Their ideas and conversation were rudimentary, stumbling, exposing on one conversant's side an inclination towards filtering the issues through hierarchy and the oppressive dynamics of charity. On the other side textbook denial serving as cover for a positioning of the Black middle class as oppressed and endangered rather than living beyond its collective means and in need if a radical revolutionary anti-oppression re-org, was clear and present.


None of those speaking was even able to address conditions in Black working class, working poor communities. They weren't even in agreement about the importance of class or class analysis.


That conversation was difficult for me to watch as someone who was raised working class, working poor who has in a variety of different ways middle cllass/ed, yes, through education, familial alliance, relationship and who does quite clearly see the discrepancies and holes in what they were each saying. It is the fact that I bear no love for or loyalty to the middle class of any ethnic/cultural/national group of people that opens my mouth.


I suspect that it was their love for and loyalty to their own middle class privilege as career'd and status'd Black people that kept them stumbling for words that would not implicate them and their participation as Black middle class people, in systems of domination that keep other Black people in their place.




All this to say...I think that one of the reasons Barack Obama, the murderous, war mongering, dissimulating buppet of Wall Street, was voted into power was because the Black middle class were manipulated into seeing themselves, their wimminfolk, their children, their lifestyles, their dreams, their goals for themselves and for their communities in him, his relationship with his wife, his children, his family life, his success, his status, his very existence.


All of what his campaign careful marketed with the brand phrase "YES WE CAN!" combined to trumpet to those who identify with class privilege, status and hierarchy in Black communities, that he, his family and his administration would open more doors to the halls of wealth and power for the Black middle class.


Now this particular campaign strategy only worked and only continues to work because the folks who were supposed to be adept not just at speaking about race and racism but also about how white domination goes hand in hand with class dominance, creating and then utilizing to maximum benefit middle class buffers of snitching, disdainful, tsk-tsking, gate keeping, ambitious, carrot chomping, oppressive working class people who have been pretty much lobotomized into forgetting who they actually are. In other words, they have been offered incentives to forget who they actually are. Then they have re-branded themselves to others as separate, different, better quality and caliber folks than the people they came from.


Their one job whether it is in USian Black communities or in South African Black communities, or in Caribbean Black communities or in Kkkanadian Black communities is to keep those who are still understood to be working class and poor so anxious about day to day survival, so desperate to feed and clothe their children, so brokenhearted, self blaming, shame filled, humiliated, impotently filled with depression, so woefully attached to and dependent on the crumbs thrown to them by the middle class...who get their crumbs from the upper classes, that they have no time to realize they outnumber the wealthy, are just as worthy of security, are capable of forging powerful alliances and rising up to throw off the various oppressive boots on their necks.


heh :)


The problem is, that in a place like the US where the media is doing a much better job of brainwashing and distracting amerikkkan citizens, the middle class are starting to seem increasingly obsolete to the upper classes.


Note: THIS IS NOT CLASS WAR.


The middle class are not endangered as a class. Their class is a figment of their imaginations so thoroughly delluded by the upper classes that they actually understand themself as very close to upper class, definitely not at all related to working class and poor people.


Sadly, regardless of how any of the middle classes understand themselves, many of them are no longer needed as an effective human buffer between the upper classes and the working classes. For decades now in different parts of the world the middle class has been destroyed. What people describe as massive disparity between the wealthy and the poor in other parts of the world is evidence of how the middle class was either never allowed to really have a foothold or of how they have been completely obliterated, sent packing back to their roots.


Here and now in north amerikkka many of those who have traditionally been a part of the middle class or who have only recently been inducted into the middle class are being served their walking papers with only a handful of industries still on the payroll for the foreseeable future. Even the teachers are no longer in such great number to mind mess and MISeducate the working classes into self subjugation.


Significantly, just as other communities of middle class people are starting to feel the effects of no longer being needed as lackies, or rather of having their support taken for granted by the upper classes, a new group of up and coming middle class loyal worker bots have been offered legitimacy, meaning, they have been offered an official entry pass into the hallowed halls of relative class privilege via, you guessed it, marriage. Clearly the Obama administration's employers understand that in the coming years, having the loyalty of a new/er set of middle class voter buffers in the form of gay and lesbian community, will be significant. Perhaps they're concerned about having someone to keep queers who remain alienated and dispossessed in their place? Yup. That sounds just about right.


Sadly for many people, the privileged gravy train of middle class privilege is coming to an end. For many Black middle class folks the doors to the gravy train only opened recently. So, I get that it stings and frustrates many of us that the buffet is closing down just as we picked up our plates or just after we managed to get a couple of servings. It's scary because our lives and ways of being have been predicated on an assumption that abundance beyond what we had been raised with would continue indefinitely and that we, like our white counterparts, would be able to accrue enough to safeguard generations past our time here.


BUT THIS IS NOT CLASS WAR. The Black middle class has yet to divest itself of it's belief in a classed system that benefits some but not others that allowed them to come under the thrall of a snake oil salesman like Barack Obama. When Black middle class people finally do remember who they come from and stop craving the crumbs they have been offered in exchange for policing and gate keeping...when they stop seeing themselves as victims of the system and choose to understand themselves as participants in the domination of their fellow Middle Passage sibs...when they realign themselves completely with other Black people who are resisting while struggling just to draw breath each and every day, then and only then will we have class war.











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